This Month: Chinese Ghost Month

August 22, 2017
Angelina Lee
Chinese Ghost Month

Like people all over the world, the Chinese have special customs regarding their ancestors and other spirits that are thousands of years old. 

The popular folk religion called Daoism includes days for dealing with errant ghosts in the land. When they visit in the 7th month of the lunar calendar, special precautions and ceremonies are necessary. 


Chinese Ghost Month


The Ghost Festival is the most important day of Ghost Month which is also one of the several traditional festivals in China to worship ancestors. 

The Daoist name for the Ghost Festival is the Zhongyuan Festival (中元节), and Buddhists call it the Yulanpen Festival (盂兰盆节), due to the translation from Sanskrit “Ullam-bana”, is the day to pay respects to the deceased by offering sacrifices.


Chinese Ghost Month


In Chinese culture, people think on the Ghost month, the gate of the underworld will open to allow the spirits go back to the living world. During the month, those have families will visit their families and those alone will roam on the street to seek food or victims. 

In order to satisfy these roam spirits, people will pay tribute on the 15th days of the Ghost Month and that’s the origins of Ghost Festival.


Chinese Ghost Month


This year’s Chinese Ghost Month will start from August 22nd and the Ghost Festival is on September 15th, the last day of the Ghost Month will be September 19th. These three days are the most important days during Ghost Month.


Family members usually offer sacrifice to their deceased ancestors and relatives on the first day, Ghost Festival and the last day. 

The family’s ancestral tablets and photographs will be put on the table with incense burning near them. 


Chinese Ghost Month


Chinese Ghost Month


People also pay tribute to those unknown wandering spirits with food and burn joss paper on the street side to please them on the 15th (some places on the 14th) day of the 7th lunar month to avoid the harm by them. 

Buddhists and Taoists usually perform ceremonies on the day to help the ghosts ease the sufferings. They will hold a ceremony for them and chant scriptures. 


Chinese Ghost Month


On the evening of the Ghost Festival, people also make lanterns, tell their ancestor they miss them and float the lanterns on the river to help their relatives find their way back to home. The lanterns are usually lotus flower-shaped with light or candles. Some people also write their ancestors’ name on the lanterns.


Chinese Ghost Month


Chinese Ghost Month


As the ghosts and the suffering spirits will come out from the hell to visit their homes during the 7th lunar month (the ghost month), many things should be avoided during this month. 

Fun thing is that the Ghost Month is also a time that most of the horror movies are released.



1. Don’t stroll at night.

2. Don’t swim in the lake, river and pond. It is said that the drowned evil ghost might try to drown you in order to find victims for them to rebirth.

3. As the month is considered to be inauspicious, don’t move to new houses, start new businesses or marry.

4. Don’t hang clothes outside at night.

5. Do not pick up coins, money or envelope found on the street and never bring it home.

6. Do not step on or kick the offerings by the roadside. If you step by accident, you should apologize aloud to make it alright.

7. Do not wear red because ghosts are attracted to red.

8. Don’t whistle as these may attract ghosts.

9. Keep away from the wall corners as it is believed that ghosts like sticking to corners.

10. If you are born during the ghost month, avoid celebrating your birthday at night. It’s better to celebrate during the daytime.

11. Do not tap on someone’s shoulder. Chinese believe that everyone has “flames” that protect people got harm by the evil spirits. These flames are on the shoulders and head. If you tap someone’s shoulder or head is like you put off the fire.


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